Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dissertation: Reset

I have to admit, posting about my dissertation has been difficult, because my mind hasn't been in it. It's not that I'm not interested in, or thinking about, the topic; I'm working on revisions nearly every day. The trouble is, at the moment I'm revising the quantitative section, so that's where my head is at.

Because of that, I'm going to switch gears and write about what I'm actually working on.

The quantitative portion is based on a survey of presidents conducted in 2006 by the Council of Independent Colleges and Wes Willmer. Fundraising surveys often have bad response rates, as low as 20-something percent. In this case, 274 out of 555 responded. This is not bad, relatively speaking, but it's still quite possible that respondents are not typical of all CIC members. My assumption going in (and my committee's) was that responding schools would be those with more time and resources devoted to fundraising.

However, a comparison of these schools isn't bearing this out. So far I've only compared them in IPEDS, not in VSE, but the colleges are statistically similar on tuition and fees, revenues, the percent of revenues from fundraising and from endowment returns, total enrollment, and six-year graduation rate. The only variable they differ on is graduation rates.

This is unexpected good news, because I can generalize my findings to other CIC institutions. I am wondering what it means, though, that they are different only in graduation rates. Are they more selective? Do they offer a better education? And how does this impact my generalizability? Luckily, I can test how selective they are via IPEDS.

No comments: